Category Archives: All About the Ingredient

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I originally started this post back in the day- maybe over a year ago? Recently I was asked by someone outside of the United States what a CSA was, and I think it might be a good idea to talk about it. I find CSAs a great movement in agriculture, and connects farmers to the consumers much more directly. And this is the time of the year you might want to start looking around for CSA programs. Why? They usually have caps and they are in such demand many have waiting lists. So let’s start with out first question…

What’s a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Although each CSA is run differently, the idea is simple, get the buyer to interact more with the farmers. The consumer invests money into the farm, and earns a “share.” This means you get a certain percentage of the produce. That it. Basically you are a shareholder of a business, but instead of capital gains, you get the physical produce. The idea is popular in the United States and Canada, although they might just have different names outside of North America. Most CSAs revolve around produce but have included meats, cheeses, and other products. Some have branched out to more unconventional ideas. I ran into an Alpaca CSA where shareholders would get divided up yarn, and there was a start up for a wine CSA, but due to liquor laws it was quickly shut down.

But each CSA will have different set ups. Some will have various pick up stations and will have pre-made boxes. This is a popular thing to do since it will give farmers a chance to offer their CSA to a wider range of people. Pick up stations can be in any store, I’ve seen some in bakeries and yoga studios. Some have shareholders more actively involved with the farming process and will help with the farming duties. My personal CSA has it’s members pick up their share at the farm. I get to the farm where they have a large board listing all the veggies I can get. There is a large table where we can “pick and choose” the vegetables we want, usually filling up a large bag with whatever combo we want. Then we have some things we go and pick ourselves, usually berries, tomatoes, beans, and peas. I am lucky to directly pick which veggies I want, but in CSAs that have pre-made boxes usually have request forms where you can write what you would like to see in your box.

Will I be dealing with one farm or more?

Due the popularity of CSAs many farms have joined forces to form one CSA. This is common with CSAs that might have several pick up locations. This gives farmers the chance to be an expert with a specific crop but give the consumer a large selection. So you might have a CSA with 4 different farmers, each one maybe growing 4 to 5 different types of fruits and vegetables. This tends to happen more with food that grow on trees, like peaches, apples, and avocados.

Even if you are dealing with CSA that is one central farm, they might sell food from other local farms. For example my CSA gives shareholders options to buy more food outside of their share. So there are meats from small farmers, apples from a local orchard, homemade foods (like pot pies and veggie burgers), breads, and cheeses.

What’s the advantage?

As a buyer a CSA gives you the advantage for fresher and cheaper produce than a supermarket. Although I love supporting farmer markets, they aren’t always full of fruit and vegetables, especially smaller ones (I find they usually sell cooked foods and finished goods). If you sign up for a good CSA, you should see the farmers. This gives you a chance to ask about farming advice for your small garden, what will be good next week, what to do with this weeks produce, and whatever else you might be wondering.

From an economic standpoint, farmer or farmers who own the CSA have a set source of income. They don’t need to worry about growing a certain amount of product, or worrying about not selling all of it. They are able to get a set amount of money for the year, and can budget accordingly. This also means better job security for the workers as well. They are also cutting out the middle man. Most farms grow produce and sell it to a company which then packages and sells the produce to a supermarket, which sells it to you. So the money you spend goes more directly towards the farmers.

And it is great for the environment. Not all CSAs are certified organic since it can be an expensive and time consuming process to get the certification. But that doesn’t mean the farm will use pesticides and chemicals. Most CSAs work as one farm, growing various fruits and vegetables. This gives a lot more variety, so if one year if there is a blight, you might not get many tomatoes but you will get plenty of kale. Also by having people who live close pick up their produce, you cut out a lot of gas used for transportation. Now you don’t need a truck to ship your berries across the country.

So then what’s the disadvantage?

As I mention before that CSAs will grow many different vegetables, letting the weather decide to a certain degree which ones will die and flourish. This forces you to take what you can get. This can get you to be creative and find new foods to eat. This is exciting. It also can mean you are still spending money in the supermarket for things you want. For example, the few years my CSA to perfect the growing process of onions and garlic, so I was buying those for awhile at the supermarket (and still do from time to time).

You might get too much. And you might think that isn’t a problem. I use to think that way. I thought, oh how could I ever have too much food? During farming season, I spend 3 minutes with my fridge door open just trying to find ketchup. Depending on the season things are better than others. Spring is brutal as the produce just takes up lots of space. Most greens cook down to make only one meal, but will fill up your vegetable drawer fast. Some weekends I feel like I am simply cooking just to get things out of the way- like when I made kimchi just to make room in the fridge for kale and collard greens.

Beginners Tips

  1. Get a salad spinner. Seriously. You’ll need it. I can not stress how dirty your food will be from the farm. I will wash my greens 3 or 4 times just to get all the dirt out. I was a little ticked when my husband put a salad spinner on our registry as they take up a lot of space and our kitchen is small. But it is has proved to be a must have kitchen item.
  2. Prep all your food when you get home. It might be tempting to toss you bag in the fridge and call it a day. But organizing and prepping your food will ensure it will last longer. Make sure your produce are in bags, except for berries, apples, etc. If your CSA doesn’t provide produce bags, I’ve found that reusing old plastic shopping bags work great. Otherwise your produce will wilt before the end of the week and nobody wants to eat that.
  3. Dry off your lettuce. This kind-of falls into the “prep your food first” tip, but it is slightly different. Aside from berries, lettuce is the next most perishable produce from farms. They always seem to be wet from farmers trying to clean them, or from morning dew. So after three days the lettuce is a little slimy. So I’ve made practice to chop, wash, and dry lettuce as soon as I can so it stays fresher, longer. Plus, letting lettuce greens sit a day or two after chopping actually INCREASES it’s nutritional value.
  4. Sign up for pinterest and buy a BIG book on veggies. You will find lots of new vegetables at your CSA. For example, kolhrabi might not be all that well known to you. Even veggies that you know of, you might want more ideas to toss around, like using radish for something other than salads. So I find pinterest a big help. Also getting a dictionary of vegetables is helpful. I like using Vegetable Love as a guide on how to cook certain vegetables, and get ideas on what I can do with them (note it isn’t a vegan or vegetarian cookbook).
  5. SPIDERS! CATERPILLARS! AND MAGGOTS OH MY! Put your produce in the fridge, especially fruits. I remember being in grade school and having teachers say how people use to think food with transform into maggots, and think “wow people sure were dumb.” Until you pick some berries and leave them on the counter overnight. You swear you picked the untainted berries, but then you get a text from your husband asking if you saw any maggots in the berries. I am constantly finding caterpillars in my kale, and then I feel bad for killing them in my fridge. It happens. You’ll get use to it.
  6. Learn to pickle and can your food. You WILL get too much food than you can eat in a week. Even if you have lots of kids, you still might struggle to use ALL of your produce. Especially if you get a lot of a specific item. You might need to make jam, pick some peppers, freeze beans, and make tomato sauce. Learning how to make these items will help preserve some food for the winter, and prevent waste.

Picking Tips

Not many CSAs have you pick fields. But if they do, you can get some first dibs on produce. The best part of these is towards the end of the season there are lots of “finder keepers” days, or free for alls because the plants are producing so much fruit.

  1. Go to the far ends of the rows. Pretty much go where no one else is. It sounds silly, but I am shocked by how most people stick to the very openings. Going to the opposite ends usually ensure you get virtually untouched plants. I also will try and pick rows where it is hard to get to, whether it is lots of weeds or falling branches. People just pass right over them, giving you a chance to go nuts.
  2. Dress appropriately. I like wearing knee high socks during the summer, the height of picking season. Weeds grow and they tend to be prickly. Wearing socks will protect you. Other tips? Wear a big hat or sunglasses, wear boots if it rained recently, and don’t dress up.
  3. Get ready to squat and go on your tippy toes.  Most people look at eye level, and therefore miss a lot of low produce. Squat down and look around, you might find a bunch of produce on a seemingly empty plant. If there is a tree or vine, look at the top, as some people won’t bother if it isn’t easy to pick. Kids can be great since they are naturally small and the some produce is naturally at their sight lines. But they are usually not so productive, so you know, disadvantages.
  4. Get there early. The early big catches the worm, right? Well the same it true at your CSA, people are looking to make their trip faster, so the earlier you get there the less picked over the plants will be.
  5. As for tips. Each plant has their own way to check for ripeness. It might take some trial and error to find the perfect fruit, but you will get the handle on it. But if you are totally clueless, ask some of the farmers, they will be happy to get suggestions. You can even ask some of the members of your CSA, they might steer you away from a specific area or show you examples of what they picked.

Is a CSA right for you?

Although I love my CSA, and think all places should base their farms off of theirs, I am aware it isn’t for everyone. Cooking seasonally takes awhile to learn. It is hard to write about since each area has different produce and different food comes in season at different times. Some things seems a no brainer to eat, like salad during the summer? Right? Well lettuce is actually a spring crop! There are varieties that grow during the summer, but you can’t assume your CSA will try growing them.

You also need to enjoy cooking and be willing to try new things. As mentioned above, you might need to pickle things to preserve them. I started pickling peas since we would get more than what we could eat in a week. I’ve also made my own tomato sauce and bbq sauce since there were so many tomatoes from the farm one year. It might be a lot of work but it lets you have it a little easier during the winter when you can just defrost some tomato sauce for a recipe.

Nervous? Find someone to split a share with! Some people at my CSA will alternate weeks between two people. This can give you a chance to get use to eating seasonally. We have gotten so use to buying whatever we want whenever we need it, that it is can be a hard pill to swallow to be told what to take. This can mean breaking traditions and creating new ones.

So what about you guys? Are you part of a CSA? Do you have any tips or info that I left out?


I love Korean culture. I use to be big on jpop (which is probably obvious since I posted about a Japanese singer yesterday) and would always try to keep up music from other Asian cultures, Korea, Thailand, China, etc. But finding Korean artists was hard, I was a huge fan of Baby V.O.X, S.E.S, Loveholic, Clazziquai, Se7en, H.O.T, BoA and Lee Hyori. Then there was a huge boom of korean music. 2NE1, T-ara, Big Bang, IU, Wonder Girls, and then all the sudden the underground music started to become easy to access. Korean music even started to become part of American culture! Wonder Girls toured with Jonas Brothers, 2NE1 has a song featured in an American commercial, and Emma Stone professes her love of 2NE1. So I am putting together a little Korean starter kit for readers. What should you cook, how to eat the Korean way, and what you should be listening to while cooking.

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Daily Eating:

Korean eating is serious business. There are lots of food to prepare for a traditional meal with the family. Unlike Western culture, families stay together. Children live with their parents until they get married, and even when that happens sometimes they will still choose to live with their parents (usually when their parents retire, get too old to live by themselves). The dinner is filled with lots of banchan, which are usually various kimchis/pickles and veggies. They are served in many dishes on the table and you grab and eat with your bowl of rice. A lot of the sides are naturally vegan, though they are often paired with non-vegan foods:

What to Listen to:

2NE1: If you need something boombastic, 2NE1 will get your pumped to chop some freaking onions. I recommend I Am The Best, because you are in fact the best at chopping.

Big Bang + T.O.P + G-Dragon: This group is under the same label as 2NE1 and have some great tunes as well. I personally love T.O.P and G-Dragon, who have done some solo releases and some songs exclusively together.

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Eating Together

Eating alone is a big social taboo in Korea. As mentioned above, families stay together for awhile, so there is in theory, no reason to eat by yourself. If you want to eat out, most restaurants actually sell food with the intention of sharing. You would buy a “set” according to the amount of people you are eating with. In fact some restaurants won’t let you eat by yourself, and require more than one person (which is used in the plot for episodes of Let’s Eat). It is common to eat as a group with friends, as a couple, or going out afterwork with coworkers. Pretty much everyone shares what is ordered at the table.

This is becoming a problem as it is becoming more and more common that children move out of their parents house to live by themselves (and by children I mean 20+ year olds XD) This means eating at home by themselves. So there is a movement of people who broadcast live of themselves eating, mukbangs. There is a video app in Korea that lets you watch free streaming videos. Then you can donate small amounts of money to the people you are watching. Some people can make a living from broadcasting videos, earning a lot more than they would from their traditional jobs. You can learn more about this culture from this YouTube Documentary. It is very interesting, though there are questions about the disorders that might associated with these videos, fixation on food, binge eating, anorexia, etc.

If you don’t mind watching a little non-vegan food (although it isn’t hard to imagine a vegan substitute) Eat Your Kimchi talks about mukbangs while doing a mukbang. It is weirdly interesting. Maybe we should start a vegan mukbang channel? XD

Veganism In Korea

The movement is still pretty small but is growing. There are a few restaurants popping up, mostly in Seoul. The chain Loving Hut has locations in korea. Eat Your Kimchi does a great video and blog post about the variety of food they have and directions on how to get there. They also did another video of a bakery in Itaewon (the foreigner district) called Plant. I recommend checking that video too since they give directions and such on how to get there. There are lots of restaurants in Korea that are popping up according to Happy Cow.

It is a movement that will probably take awhile since meat is viewed as a sign of wealth and health. Plus seafood and meat produces are introduced into meals in small amounts. And although animal by products like dairy aren’t used in traditional Korean foods, Western dishes are gaining popularity like cream cheese, milk, and other cheeses. 

The good news? If it doesn’t have meat or seafood, there is a good chance it is vegan. Vegans are known as “strict vegetarians” so it must be somewhat common. Many of the sides are vegan, though stay away from kimchi as they usually have seafood stuffed in it. Tofu is a great source of protein that is easily found. And you may be surprised by some of the desserts that are vegan! Traditional desserts don’t use milk or eggs, so you can get some yummy mochi and other rice cakes.

Traditional Dishes:

As mentioned, most Korean dishes are served in small dishes, but there are few that can be eaten all by themselves. These are the foods you would get at a restaurant, although they are usually serves with little sides as well.

Dramas to Watch:

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Coffee Prince: Netflix & Hulu
Although I love Asian dramas, they are very different from the US. They don’t have seasons, they are more like mini-series. And there are lots of cultural differences. But I think the first drama I watched and though “Any American would love this” was Coffee Prince. The story is about a girl, Eunchan, who works so hard to support her family that she sacrifices her girlish charm. So many people confuse her as a boy as she has no shame taking up jobs that are traditionally for males. After a misunderstanding, she finds herself having to pose as a boy to get a job at a coffee shop, and falls in love with her boss. Clearly we can see the issue here right? It is a great show, and doesn’t have too many stylistic choices that might isolate Western viewers. But a word of caution that Korea is a little behind on gay acceptance, so the show was pretty groundbreaking. Oh and I little tidbit, the main actress is a singer from Baby V.O.X, one of the groups I mentioned in the beginning of the post.

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Dal Ja’s Spring: Hulu

Marriage is a huge deal in Korea. Confucianism rules Korean etiquette, and it views marriage as a necessary part of life. Which is why it seems odd to viewers that Dal Ja is 30, successful at her job, and still single. She gets hounded by her mother to start dating and get married, and is viewed as the equivalent of a spinster. That all changes when she bumps into a male “gigolo,” Taebang, who pretends to be boyfriends for single women. Taebang find himself coaching Dal Ja how to win her perfect dream date. The story is great, and there are lots of fun and interesting characters. It gives a little bit of a more realistic view of Korea’s dating scene, which pretty much means PEOPLE ARE HAVING SEX! It isn’t a risky show by US standards by any means, though.

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The Master’s Sun: Hulu

This is one of the most unique dramas I’ve come across. Super natural elements aren’t exclusive to dramas, but it isn’t as common in romantic comedies. Gong-shil can see ghosts and she is terrified by them. Her whole life revolves around avoiding them. She can’t hold a normal job and becomes a recluse. Then she bumps into Joong Won, who apparently makes ghosts disappear by simply touching him. Gong-shil vows to stay by Joong Won’s side, but he is pretty much bachelor of the year, rich and handsome. But Joong Won finds some finical benefits to Gong-shil’s talent, and the two work together. I ended up watching this whole series with my husband and it translates well for Westerners. There are only a few cultural things going on, like knowing what a Korean funeral looks like, and knowing some Korean horror films. You don’t NEED to know these things to understand what is going on though.

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100 Year Inheritance: Hulu

I normally don’t recommend these long dramas to people. But my god, this show is cray-cray! You hear people joke about over the top soap operas with eyepatches, evil twins, and the like. Well this pretty much puts those shows to shame. And you wouldn’t think you would be into it, but after each show I want more! I am pretty sure I neglected the blog for a few months just mindlessly watching this show. So what is it about? Hard to sum it up since there are many plots that evolve to a whole lot more. But the story opens with Chae Won, getting flack at a formal event. She huffs and puffs and leaves the event in a big scene, making the viewer think she is some rich bitch. Oh no, she was a poor girl who married into a rich family. The marriage was for love but her Mother in Law is convinced that she is trying to steal all of their money. We find out Chae Won is a perfect bride and daughter in law but is brutally abused, verbally, mentally, and physically. She tries to escape the marriage, but fearing a huge pay off, the Mother in law kidnaps her and forces Chae Won into a mental institution. Look if you are still not convinced, there is like amnesia, semi-incest, and orphans. This show has it all.

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Let’s Eat: Hulu

Remember me talking about Mukbangs? Well, kind-of serves the same purpose. I found myself spending many late nights watching this when my hubby was working late. Soo Kyung is recently divorced. She lives in her own apartment with her pomeranian and is loving her new independence. But she has a problem, she loves food. There are so many restaurants she wants to try but has shut herself out from other people. Until she befriends her neighbors, a young girl and younger male, using them to go to all the hot spots. No, the food in vegan, but some are close to it. It provided me with lots of inspiration. I think the only scene that didn’t make me drool was the Korean pizza. That stuff is funky.

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Korean Fusion:

I think the flavors of Korean foods are amazing, but they aren’t the most vegan friendly cuisine. That is why we need to eat Korean fusion meals. These are recipes that use or are inspired by Korean foods. So bashing on the authenticity, alright?

Korean Drinking Culture:

Maybe you want to serve some booze with your Korean dinner. And that probably an authentic audition. Koreans can sure drink. There are some rules to drinking, like you aren’t suppose to pour your own glass, someone else must fill your drink up. When you take a sip of your drink you must face away from your elders, which you see often in Korean shows and movies. So what should you be drinking? I am only listing options I have found in the US.

Beer – Yes there are a few Korean beers. The major brand that is available in the US is Hite, which isn’t very good. But microbreweries are slowly growing in Korea.

Soju– This is the most popular drink in Korea. It isn’t uh… pleasant, like cheap vodka. The strength in between a hard liquor and a glass of wine. You drink it in little shot glasses, and compliments many of the spicy dishes.

Cheongju– This is a clear rice wine, basically the Korean equivalent of sake. Actually, there are many different names for Rice Wine as it is made in many parts of Asia. It is just that sake is more well known. You can usually find these in the US labeled as sake but will have korean letting.

Makgeolli– This is another type of rice wine. This one is unique because it is a milky color. Usually there is some pulp in the drink, varying in the amount according to the region. This wine is also lightly carbonated, making a really unique drink for Westerners.

Fruit Wines– I’ve seen both raspberry and blueberry fruit wines from Korea in the US. In Korea it is common to include grains in their wines, so you get a flavor that is different than some of the Western fruit wines. Korean versions are also much sweeter but have a more complex flavor.


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What 3 foods would you bring on a deserted island? It was in fact a tough question. We are always asked if we could bring only one book, 10 albums, and so on, but never which foods. This would be hard since I love variety, and I wouldn’t have anything to do on a island. Yes, there would be a lot of things to do to just simply survive, but surely that couldn’t take all day? So I thought about what could give me the biggest bang for my buck.

I thought that there would probably be some produce on the island like leafy greens, roots, and fruit. So I thought, about what I could bring for starches and proteins, and thought rice and beans. Complete protein, okay doing good. But what about the third item, then it hit me- KOJI! So what the heck is koji? It is a strain of bacteria (it’s scientific name is Aspergillus oryzae) that is purposly grown on rice and soy beans to help preserve them. It is a much more complicated version of our pickles.

The earliest documentation of koji goes back to 300 BCE in the Rites of Zhou Dynasty. This bacteria is so important to Asian foods, that it was named as the “national fungus” in Japan. There is even a story book character that is the koji bacteria. So what can koji make? Soju, amazake, soy sauce, miso, douchi, gochujang, huangjiu, makgeolli, and shochu. So while all you chumps thought to bring “food” to your desert island, I am able to get crunked!

There a few kinds of koji variations. White koji is the earliest version. It was easy to cultivate and it’s enzymes worked faster than earlier koji strains. Black koji is another early strain. It is rarely used and pretty much used in Okinawa just to produce awamori. It is most known for spreading spores very easily. Workers will often get their clothes black in spores by the end of day. This is why it isn’t as popular today. Yellow koji is used often in sake production but it is extremely sensitive. 

So what can I make with my three items? I made a list, which might have to altered slightly to make it work with only koji, soy beans, and rice.

  • Miso*
  • Soy Sauce*
  • Sake*
  • Rice & Soybeans
  • Douchi*
  • Natto (cooked soy beans can naturally ferment into natto)
  • Amazake*
  • Tofu
  • Soy Milk
  • Rice Vinegar*
  • Tofu Cheese*
  • Rice Noodles
  • Mochi
  • Makgeolli*

Items with the * would use the koji spores. And depending on the island I could make maekgoli (with a starchy tubar), gochujang (with spicy peppers), miso pickled foods (with local veggies), coconut aminos (if the island had coconuts), miso soup (if I could cultivate seaweed), and tofu stir-fries with local island veggies.

I personally haven’t dabbled in making foods with koji. But you want to take a dive, you can buy some cultures from Cultures for Health, they have rice koji and barley koji. Each koji culture works better for certain types of foods. South River Miso Company sells koji, but only the rice koji. I think if I am going to be stuck on an island I would have pleanty of time to hone into my craft of koji fermenting. 


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 I love avocados. I don’t eat them that often. The price is pretty high on the east coast, about two to three dollars an avocado. When I use to work at a restaurant I would take them all the time, my bosses would charge me less or nothing at all. Once I left I faced the harsh reality of paying retail for avocados.

Then there are the draughts in California. I mentioned on my blog about how almonds use up lots of water, and I therefore tried to cut down on my almond consumption. I subbed soy milk for almond milk, and made rice milk at home (instead of almond milk). Yes, I was buying and making almond milk each and every week. 

So what about avocados? How much water do they use? The answer: a lot, but not as much as almonds.

A huge portion of avocado production in the United States happen in Southern California. Then when the United States season ends for avocados, Chili starts their season. And just like Southern California, Chili is going through their own drought.

Being an East Coaster I have an option that is better for the environment: the Florida Avocado. Yes, there are several different types of avocados, though Haas is clearly America’s favorite. The avocados grown in Florida have a smooth green skin, a much larger size, lower fat content, and less calories. Because of the lower fat content, there is a larger amount of water, and a milder flavor. There are a few things I’ve learned about this variety, and will share to anyone who wants to make a more eco-friendly decision.

Their Cheaper (for me at least)

It’s hard not to choose the Florida avocado over the Haas on price alone. One haas avocado is $2.50 a piece while the Florida avocado is $2 each. Sure it is only about fifty cents less, but the Florida avocado is about double the size of a Haas. I can find some cheaper Haas avocados in “bulk bags” but only gets down to about $1.75 each, which still is more expensive due to size. Part of the cheaper price is because cheaper transport, New Jersey is closer to Florida than California or Chili.

Sometimes it is Called a Slimcado (get over it)

You might see this in the store with stickers claiming it is a “slimcado.” I think this label can hurt and help sales. Yes, it has less calories and less fat, which for some people is important. But on the flip side, some people care more about those healthy fats and having non-GMO foods. The name gives a vibe that this is a Haas avocado that has been altered to fit a specific demand in the market. It isn’t. This is a species of avocado that grows in the West Indies, and has been around for years. 

Let it Sit For a Few Days to Ripen

When I first tried these guys I hated it. I mean disgusted. I knew I wasted my money. A few years went by and I figured why not give them a second chance. Over the years I learned more tricks about keeping and picking Haas avocados, so applied those rules to the Florida avocado. So I sat my new avocados on the counter and waited a few days. The difference in taste is huge. Many reviews online had people saying they hate Florida avocados, but I think people are just eating unripe fruit. The color of the skin may change color, depending on the variety. The main way to tell if your Florida avocado is ripe is my checking if the flesh is soft. When it is ripe, toss it in the fridge to eat later, or consume in 2-3 days.

It Just Doesn’t Make Guac (sorry)

I think we all love guacamole for it’s velvety and fatty consistency. I’ve tried using a Florida avocado several times, and failed. I kept getting guac that was over powered by other flavors, garlic, salt, lime, etc. I also got a weird watery spread, that just didn’t seem right. If you grew up eating guac from Florida avocados, then you might think it is the only way to eat guacamole. If Haas avocados shaped your guac standards you will just be disappointed. Keep in mind other recipes that use raw blended avocados for a thick food like puddings, probably will need modifications.

Firmer Skin

Since there is less fat in Florida avocados they are much firmer and keep their shape. There has been many times where I’ve made a salad and added avocado chunks, only to have them mush up when tossing it. The other day I used my Florida avocado in my sushi rolls. They ended up being the most beautiful sushi rolls I’ve ever made since the avocado flesh was firm enough to cut up. So if you want the flesh to stay together I would recommend the Florida variety over Haas.

Still Tastes Great In Shakes

Some of my favorite shakes use avocados. But I never actually make them because of price. Well, the Florida avocado easily subs in, and one fruit can last all week. Even with the lower fat content, the it’ll still delivers that thick velvety quality that you look for. Since Florida avocados are bigger I would “halve” the amount used in the recipe. For example if a shake calls for half of an avocado, use only a quarter of a Florida avocado.

Anyone had a chance to try a Florida avocado? Love it or hate it?


Today we are going to talk about a little story. This story is about the soy bean. Sure you’ve been told that it is one of most versatile ingredients in the world. Sadly, most Americans and Westerners have no clue how much is made with soy. Sure there is soy milk, tofu, soy ice cream, soy beef patties, and miso, but how much more can be made from a bean?

Take away refrigerators, and humans get pretty creative with how to save their foods. Just think about how in the west we have so many different variations of milk. There is yogurt, cremes, cheeses, and much more. Even with cheese, there are so many different flavors and textures. You have a mild cheese like mozzarella that is fresh and no fermentation. Then you have fermented cheeses like swiss that has a completely different texture, smell, and taste. You can even get a totally different cheese with a different strain of bacteria, like blue cheese. The same thing can be said about soy. Do a few things to the beans, and you can get lots of different results. Tofu is kind-of similar to mozzarella, fresh and soft. Miso is fermented and therefore has a drastically different pungent taste. So what is the “blue cheese” of soy? Surely it must be douchi.

bean-party

Douchi looks like a raisin, but it is simply a fermented old soy bean. Even though soy bean’s color can be black, any variety is used for this food. Douchi is the earliest form of soy bean fermentation known to man. Older than miso. Douchi was found in a tomb dating all the way back to 165 BCE.

As I am talking about these wrinkly beans, you might be wondering what these things taste like. If you ever gotten black bean chicken on at a Chinese food take out, you tasted douchi. There is a distinct taste to the douchi beans that are salty, but can not be replaced. Sort of like how soy sauce simply can’t be replaced with salt.

The steps for making the paste require the soy beans to be soaked, steamed, and inculcate with soy koji, which is used for miso. The beans mold over, turning green. The mold is rinsed off to remove some bitter flavors, though this step can be skipped. The soy beans are then placed in a brine for six months. The end result are “black beans.” They can be eaten alone as a snack, or be made into a paste.

beanpaste

“Black Bean” Paste

Douchi is commonly made into a paste. Anyone who takes a dip into “asian cooking” can go crazy from all the new pastes and sauces that are needs for a recipe. Add “Black Bean” Paste to the list now. This is where things get confusing. Many culture have different names for all their pastes, and many will swear that their paste is different than others. Just think of the American biscuit. A woman from the south will say biscuits from the north just aren’t right.

The basic recipe for “Black Bean” Paste is to saute douchi in a pan with broth, water, and garlic. Sometimes oil, soy sauce, and starch are added for flavor and texture. This sauce or paste is becoming easier to find in supermarkets, but are overpriced and small.

Douchi is pretty popular in Korean food because of the rise in popularity of Jajangmyeon. Koreans call their paste chunjang. Many swear it isn’t the same as the Chinese counterpart. What is the difference? Honestly caramel. Yes, Koreans like their savory foods sweet. So if you aren’t satisfied with douchi you bought add some sugar or some other sweetener.

REMEMBER- if you are buying pre-made “Black Bean” Paste check the ingredients! If you are vegetarian or vegan, there may be caramel (milk guise) or chicken stock in the paste!

COOKING

There are a few ways to use black bean paste in cooking. It is used more as a seasoning, as it is too salty to eat on it’s own. Just imagine eating a spoonful of miso? (alright I’ve been known to lick the spoon) Traditionally, you can toss a tablespoon or two in a stir fry, though you may want to omit any soy sauce or salt. It is also common to use to on different steamed meats, such as ribs or fishes. And one of the most popular dishes is Jajangmyeon, noodles slathered in black bean paste.

But truth is the sky is the limit. Maybe make dumplings with chopped veggies covered in some black bean sauce. Maybe you could try making a BBQ sauce out the paste. Heck, they have been even used in ice cream! Play around and be daring. Think of the paste a little bit like “soy sauce” in the flavor and go from there. I am sure you will blow all your friends away.

RECIPES

Jajangmyeon
Vegan Black Bean Abalone Stir-fry